The specific phobias in children, such as night-time fears and animal phobias, should not be underestimated since they cause personal distress to the child and also much interference with daily activities. Intervention plans should be informed by multi-method assessment, using tools that are empirically sound and developmentally sensitive. We selectively review a number of assessment tools, including structured diagnostic interview schedules, standardised instruments such as anxiety or fear self-report questionnaires, and behavioural tasks. We provide an overview of the main intervention approaches, from a behavioural perspective, including traditional behavioural intervention procedures such systematic desensitisation and its variants, cognitive-behavioural therapy, and behavioural family therapy. We also present recent developments in psychodynamic treatment for phobic and anxious children. Medications are also discussed because of their possible use with psychosocial interventions. Finally, we present our conclusions on the empirical standing of the various treatment approaches and also examine the important issue of treatment outcome prediction.

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Child and Adolescent Mental Health
Department of Psychology

King, N., Muris, P., & Ollendick, T. (2005). Childhood fears and phobias: Assessment and treatment. Child and Adolescent Mental Health (Vol. 10, pp. 50–56). doi:10.1111/j.1475-3588.2005.00118.x